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History of Brexit

Brexit has officially become law after it passed both the Houses and received assent from the Queen. On 31st January 2020 Britain officially left EU. In this video we explore the legislative and political upheavals that led to Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Crux of the Matter

While the global tensions were freezing down after World War II into a Cold War, European nations, in 1957, formed the European Economic Community (EEC), which the United Kingdom was not a part of. In 1963, UK showed hints of joining the EEC. However, then President of France, Charles de Gaulle was skeptical about the British tilting towards the Americans even after EEC membership.

UK joined EEC in 1973 and soon after, in 1975, it was on the brink of exiting. It was saved by a referendum, a first during the period of Britain’s stay in the EEC. The politically Eurosceptic Labour Party lost its limb and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was formed.

The rollercoaster went downhill again in 1984 when Conservative Party PM Margaret Thatcher took a tough stance towards the payment of Farm Subsidies to the EEC at a time when UK was the third poorest country amongst EU nations.
The Iron Lady’s strong opinion was heeded then and is in place to date. This event is seen to have given UK a more vocal position in the EEC.

European Union was founded in 1992 through the signing of the Maastricht Treaty by EEC member nations. Britain’s bumpy ride with the EU started on various different terms post-1992.

Once all-pervasive and powerful, the British were slowly losing ground in the EU. Due to the horror of the ‘Mad Cow‘ disease, British Beef was banned by EU nations during the late ’90s. At the beginning of the 21st Century, British-made chocolates, that contained vegetable-oil, sparked a controversy.

And with the addition of 8 new members in the EU in 2004, Britain was apprehensive about the flocking economic migrants.

While the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was settling, David Cameron, PM of UK, in a very bold move rejected an EU treaty in 2011 on the grounds that it did not protect the financial sector of Britain. EU members were enraged with Britain’s decision and mulled over Britain’s stay in the EU.

Cameron fought elections with the agenda of renegotiating the UK-EU terms. Cameron won the election and decided to hold a referendum on whether Britain will remain in the EU on June 23, 2016.

Curiopedia

The European Union is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. More Info

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History of CAA

In the previous video of the series ‘Understanding CAA’, we understood what CAA is. If you missed that video, click here. Let us now have a look at the historical background of CAA.
Crux of the Matter

India has been a home to refugees for centuries. When Parsis faced religious persecution during 12th – 16th Century, refugees from the community came and settled in Gujarat. India went through a turbulent refugee crisis during partition. Nearly 10 million people were dislodged and they became refugees migrating through the overflowing borders. The migration was a picture in red and black – massacre and violence.

It seems that people of the Indian subcontinent are still paying for the two-nation theory that created India and Pakistan in 1947. Independent India created a citizenship law to tackle swarms of illegal migrants. The 1955 Citizenship Act laid out the mechanisms for acquiring Indian Citizenship which is governed by Articles 5 to 11 of the Indian Constitution.

In 1971, Bangladesh, which was then East Pakistan, was a victim of mass genocide called “Operation Searchlight” carried out by Pakistan in order to wipe out the Bengali Movement in the state. In the 9-month long pogrom, anywhere between 3 lac to 3 million civilians were massacred and more than 10 million refugees rushed to India’s West Bengal, Assam and other nearby states as well as to Myanmar. This triggered the 1971 war between India and Pakistan which led to the bifurcation of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh.

A decade later, the menace of Bangladeshi refugees started creeping up in the states of North East, especially Assam. In 1979 the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) started a movement to save the indigenous culture and drive out refugees, who comprised majorly of Bengalis.
It culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord in 1986 by the then Rajiv Gandhi government. Citizenship Laws became stricter with the 1986 amendment to the Citizenship Act. Individuals born in India could only be considered a citizen if either of their parents was an Indian citizen.

Vigilance on the India – Bangladesh border became stricter. In accordance to the Assam Accord, the amended Citizenship Act aimed at driving out illegal immigrants who had entered India after March 25, 1971.

The term that is creating controversy today “illegal migrants” was added to the Act in the 2003 Amendment by Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. Its definition was added to the Act and the following major changes were made:

  • If either of the parents of a child born in India after 2003 were illegal migrants, the child was not to be considered an Indian Citizen.
  • Between 1987-2003, Indian citizenship could be granted to a child whose either parent held Indian Citizenship.
  • Whereas, prior to 1987, anyone born in India was considered Indian Citizen.
  • Illegal immigrants could not apply for Indian Citizenship through Registration.

Dr. Manmohan Singh, then in the Opposition, criticized the Bill and said in 2003 that “”India’s stance towards persecuted minorities be most liberal.” Other amendments in 2005 and 2015 to the Bill were linked to the Overseas Citizenship Clause in the Act.

2003 Amendment also mandated Government to conduct a nation-wide National Register of Citizens and issue a national identity card to each citizen. NRC was not much deliberated after 2003 until 2008’s 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The Congress-led UPA Government decided to go with Aadhaar identification rather than NRC. Along with Census 2010, National Population Register was carried out. However, the UPA government did not take any steps to conduct NRC.

NRC in Assam is an entirely different issue. It has been mandated by the Supreme Court since 1986 to make sure Assam Accord gets honoured.

BJP-led NDA government’s Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, seems like a policy that is on the other side of the spectrum when compared with former NDA government’s 2003 amendments. Attributing circumstantial elements to the different stances, this amendment eases the citizenship requirements for immigrants from certain “religiously persecuted” communities. It will not consider “illegal” immigrants who have entered India before 31st December 2014 and who are from Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Sikh, Christian, Budhha religions as “illegal” and will grant them citizenship. Furthermore, naturalization period for these persecuted minorities has been reduced to 5 years instead of 11. The 11 year naturalisation period is still applicable to every other immigrant.

Looking at the timeline of amendments, it seems that changing circumstances as well as generational demographic shifts have coincided with changes in the citizenship requirements as mandated by the government of India.

Curiopedia

Operation Searchlight was a planned military operation carried out by the Pakistan Army to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in the erstwhile East Pakistan in March 1971, which the Pakistani state retrospectively justified on the basis of anti-Bihari violence by Bengalis in early March. Ordered by the central government in West Pakistan, this was seen as the sequel to “Operation Blitz” which had been launched in November 1970. The original plan envisioned taking control of all of East Pakistan’s major cities on 26 March, and then eliminating all Bengali opposition, political or military, within one month. Pakistani President Yahya Khan at a conference in February 1971 said “Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands.” Prolonged Bengali resistance was not anticipated by the Pakistani military leaders. The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major Bengali-held town in mid-May. The operation also precipitated the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, in which 300,000-3,000,000 civilians were killed and roughly 10 million refugees fled to India. Bengali intelligentsia, academics and Hindus were targeted for the harshest treatment, with significant indiscriminate killing taking place. These systematic killings enraged the Bengalis, who declared independence from Pakistan, to establish the new nation of Bangladesh. More Info

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CAA – What's The Deal?

Crux of the Matter

Citizenship Amendment Act came into effect from 10th January 2020. To say, it has been a hot topic for more than a month, would be an understatement. It has had a polarising effect on politics as well as the citizenry of India.

Citizenship Amendment Act, a part of the ruling party BJP’s electoral manifesto, was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016. With the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, the bill did not see the light of day. It was re-introduced in the Winter Session of 2019, the year BJP came back to power at the centre with a thumping majority.

Passed by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the Act aims at giving citizenship to certain migrants belonging to persecuted minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Citizenship will be granted to migrants belonging to Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, and Christian religions. As per the 2019 amendment, now these migrants will not be treated as illegal migrants. Those who have entered India before 31 Dec 2014 will be given Indian citizenship. Refugees from these communities will, in general have their naturalisation period reduced to 5 years instead of the standard 11 years. The 11 year naturalisation period will still be applicable to other migrants.

CAA had also been announced during the Congress regime. It aimed at providing citizenship to religiously persecuted minorities. No religion was specified back then. CAA 2019 has sparked flames because of the apprehension of conducting NRC after CAA. The plan to implement a nationwide NRC has been emphasized multiple times by HM Amit Shah in the recent past.

CAA has been opposed by the states in the North East, specifically regions of Assam and other surrounding states not covered under the Inner Line Permit as they feel a threat to their linguistic, cultural and social identity. Despite ILP, Assam fears the already growing presence of Bangla speaking people, who hold various important positions in the social fabric. It is to be noted, that the amendment is not applicable to tribal areas of the North East and areas falling under ILP.

The primary opposition to CAA in the rest of India is based on the speculative fear that it will be a safety net to ensure the citizenship of non-Muslims, after which NRC will be implemented to discriminate against Indian Muslims. This fear has been stoked by certain parties in the opposition who claim that the government is taking away rights from Muslim citizens in the country. They see CAA as a threat to the fundamentals of the Indian constitution.

The opposition argues that the amendment violates the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution because it provides differential treatment to illegal migrants on the basis of their religion. Article 14 permits laws to differentiate between groups of people only if the rationale for doing so serves a reasonable purpose. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill does not explicitly explain the rationale behind differentiating between illegal migrants on the basis of the religion.

The government has tried to address these fears by repeatedly stating that CAA is not applicable to Indian citizens. Prime Minister Modi has also come out and said, “The Bill has no provision to snatch citizenship from anyone but to grant citizenship only to the refugees. There is no need for Indian Muslims to live in fear.”

Curiopedia

Citizenship in India – The conferment of a person, as a citizen of India, is governed by Articles 5 to 11 (Part II) of the Constitution of India. The legislation related to this matter is the Citizenship Act 1955, which has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Acts of 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, and 2015. Article 9 of Indian Constitution says that a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen. Also, according to The Passports Act, a person has to surrender his/her Indian passport and voter card and other Indian ID cards must not be used after another country’s citizenship is obtained. It is a punishable offence if the person fails to surrender the passport. Indian nationality law largely follows the jus sanguinis (citizenship by right of blood) as opposed to the jus soli (citizenship by right of birth within the territory). The 2019 Citizenship Amendment Bill amends the Citizenship Act of 1955 to make religiously persecuted minorities, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31 December 2014, eligible for Indian citizenship. It also seeks to relax the requirement of residence in India for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to 5 years for these migrants. More Info

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From McCarthyism to Trumpism

Crux of the Matter

Public Statement by White House on National Security & Defence: “Rebuilding U.S. deterrence to preserve peace through strength must be our Nation’s top priority. The unprecedented era of peace that followed World War II revealed that the free world is safest when America is strongest. The slow depletion of our military in recent years has resulted in an escalation of threats the world over, which President Trump is committed to reversing.”

Curiopedia

McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term refers to U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) and has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting from the late 1940s through the 1950s. It was characterized by heightened political repression and a campaign spreading fear of communist influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents. After the mid-1950s, McCarthyism began to decline, mainly due to the gradual loss of public popularity and opposition from the U.S. Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren. The Warren Court made a series of rulings that helped bring an end to McCarthyism. What would become known as the McCarthy era began before McCarthy’s rise to national fame. Following the First Red Scare, in 1947, President Truman signed an executive order to screen federal employees for association with organizations deemed “totalitarian, fascist, communist, or subversive”, or advocating “to alter the form of Government of the United States by unconstitutional means.” More Info